December 21 2011

Water Taxi: An Innovative Public Transit Opportunity in Tampa, Florida

Water taxi TampaOne of the nice things about living in Florida are ample beaches and water. Besides possessing your typical tourist attraction, Florida’s beaches and waterfront allows transportation and urban planners to be creative with public transit. Water taxis are gaining popularity in the state, and the Tampa Bay area can utilize water taxis to connect two counties separated by the Tampa Bay: Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

Currently, the only connections across Tampa Bay for Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are three bridges. Each one of these bridges is jammed packed during rush hour. One accident can cause hour-long backups across the seven-mile expansions. There have been plans to connect the counties with a light-rain train, but with the recent failure of a light-rail campaign in Hillsborough County, those plans have been scrapped for the time being. A slow car trip is the only way to cross this body of water.

Water taxis have been used around the Downtown Tampa waterfront for a while, and they keep gaining popularity. The governments of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties should consider water taxi as the next way to connect the two counties. Downtown St. Petersburg, located in Pinellas County, is just a short walk away from a waterfront. It is the source of entertainment and nightlife for Pinellas County. A water taxi connecting this city to Downtown Tampa would provide easier access between the two areas, compared to the drive on Interstate 275. It would also provide tourists with more transit options, which would benefit both counties. On top of all of the benefits, a water taxi has the intrinsic value of allowing riders to enjoy the scenery along Tampa Bay.

The water taxi idea has been proposed by a couple of people in passing, but there have yet to be any extensive feasibility studies.

Do you know of any successful water taxi projects in waterfront cities? Does a water taxi seem like a sustainable and environmentally-friendly form of transit? How do you think contemporary society would respond to water public transit?

Credits: Images and documents linked to sources.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a graduate student studying Urban and Regional Planning and Business Administration - Information Systems at the University of South Florida. She became interested in urban issues as an undergraduate student, and developed a focus on urban issues in the Tampa Bay area after serving as an intern for a light rail campaign in 2010. She currently works at the Tampa Bay Partnership, a public-private economic development company. She has credited her time with Global Site Plans as one of the reasons behind her employment there.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 at 9:27 am and is filed under Environment, Infrastructure, Land Use, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Water Taxi: An Innovative Public Transit Opportunity in Tampa, Florida”

  1. Harold Nils Pelta Says:

    Dear Ms. Thomas :

    I was pleased to see that you have brought the value of water taxis to the attention of the public and, in particular,of the Tampa Bay Partnership through your graduate studies.
    You may or may not be aware of a 31-page study on the subject produced a few years ago, by a professional consulting firm for, I believe, Sarasota County.
    I have a copy of this study in my Documents File, and could get a copy to you if you are interested.

    Secondly, I have written a (probably all too long) 52-page White Paper on a Tampa Bay Maritime Institute, whose mission is to establish and improve maritime education (in a broad sense) that would utilize the many positive aspects of Tampa Bay’s locations and assets to fill the gap caused by the Federal Maritime Administration’s sudden closing of the Continuing Education arm of the U S Maritime Academy at Kings Point, NY. This is taking place at a critical time in our economic and educational efforts.

    If you think that you may be interested, I will mail you a copy by U.S. Postal Service, given a good mailing address for your study.
    My Taxi Service suggests the evolution of a water taxi into a true on-call ferry service that would link the many powerful maritime interests in Tampa Bay, including the burgeoning marine science complex at the southern tip of St. Petersburg. It probably should extend all the way down to Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, to make it a true regional Alternative Transportation Service.
    The technology is there, the need is there —- and growing — and the initialization effort is simple and easily accomplished.
    I am retired from academic life and I am quite familiar with the latent, and often badly-utilized, power of the university. I am setting down my contact info below for your use as you see fit . Best wishes in your studies; I applaud your choice of subject matter and your approach.

    Hal P.

    My contact information :

    Harold Nils Pelta, J.D.
    Maritime Systems Network
    P O Box 208
    Ellenton, FL 34222

  2. Harold Nils Pelta Says:

    I just recalled that I had compiled a far-from-comprehensive list of water taxis in world cities. Here is an ADDENDUM with my latest list :


    Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    Miami (Brickell Avenue)
    New York City (Manhattan)
    Seattle (King County)
    Charleston, South Carolina
    Washington, D.C. (Potomac River)
    Oklahoma City (Bricktown)
    Hobart, Tasmania
    Sydney, Autralia

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